Hickory Nut Mountain
The Hickory Nut Mountain trail segment begins at the picnic area atop Hickory Nut Mountain and ends at a take-out on Forest Service road FS47A. The trail follows the south side of the mountain along the top of a rock bluff before dropping onto an old logging road that parallels Hickory Nut Creek. A canopy of old and new growth trees provide shade in the summer heat.
The creek is spring fed and spellbinding as it flows; waterfall after waterfall, cascade after cascade typify the creek as it rushes down the gorge. Look for the Grotto and a four foot waterfall coming off the side of a hill. Large boulders, huge rock outcroppings, and steep drop-offs are common.
Before embarking on the trail, take note of the sign pointing to the Old Fire Tower spur. After only a .15 miles or 10 minute hike on the spur you will arrive at the old Forest Service fire tower site, which includes the concrete anchors of the tower, the foundation to the fire tower watcher’s cabin, a water cistern, and the two National Geological Survey medallions installed in 1953.
From the picnic area at the trailhead, take a short 1.1 mile hike on the mountaintop access road to the Hickory Nut Mountain Vista where you will see sweeping views on both the western half of Lake Ouachita and the deep valley south of the Vista. This is the last time you will see the Lake once you start down the mountain.
The Hickory Nut Mountain trail is largely downhill, sometimes steeply, hike east to FS47A. But there are seasonal bridge-less creek crossings. The return route is very strenuous and a difficult biking trail. Recommend leaving vehicles at the FS47A takeout..
A primitive bathroom (outhouse style) and picnic tables are available in the day use area at the trailhead.
Directions to Trailhead:
Go east from Mount Ida about 13 miles, or west from Hot Springs about 21 miles (a mile or so west of the border separating Montgomery and Garland counties), to Hickory Nut Mountain Road. Turn north (your only option) and travel about 4 miles to the day use area sign at the top of the mountain. This will seem like a long way on a rough road; don’t give up. Turn left through the day use area to the two large cairns, one on each side of the trailhead entrance. Turn right at the day use sign and travel about 1.1 miles to the Hickory Nut Mountain Vista.
To reach the FS47/47A takeout area, go north on Hickory Nut Mountain Road for 9/10s of a mile. Turn right toward Crystal Springs onto FS47 (note that Google Maps may incorrectly refer to FS47 as “Hickorynut Mountain Road”) and go 2.6 miles to the intersection of FS47 and FS47A on your left. (FS47A may be listed as “Pollard Creek Trail” on some maps.) Go through the gate with an iron post on the right with “47A” printed on it. Go 2/10s of a mile to a low water bridge and park just across the bridge. Follow the road to your left for about 500 feet where you will see the trail on your right.